Refining Jaguar’s XJ saloons even further
ONE of the most frustrating aspects of the past decade was the decline of the Jaguar reputation in the mid-1970s, not at the time when the British luxury car market Wilt under ferocious attack from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Back in the autumn of 1975 D.S.J. and the writer toured Scotland in a Daimler VI2 and ended up shaking our heads with sympathetic sorrow. The basic package was obviously conceived as a high quality, high performance saloon, hut although it exuded a general a, of refinement it was horribly unreliable. The last 200 miles down the MI was spent popping and banging thanks to some obscure electrical gremlin which we never really got to the bottom of. It was an unhappy few days in a car that ought to have provided all the answers within its market sector — but didn’t. Four years later the XJ saloons were revised under the Series 3 nomenclature and continued to appear, on paper, as absolutely mouth-watering sports saloons. But it is only since the reign of John Egan that the quality of reliability has shone out behind the Jaguar reputation. Last summer we reported that the new V12 jaguar XIS HE had been refined beyond belief. Now we’re happy to report that the splendid six-cylinder and V12-cylinder XJ saloons are back where they belong: right at the pinnacle of the market where they can look their German rivals squarely in the face without feeling even a trace of embarrassment. You can read elsewhere in this issue about John Egan’s achievements in his two and a half years as Chairman of Jaguar Cars Ltd.: this article deals with the latest specification XJ saloons which will be coming onto the market in
1983. It’s worth speculating that they may wen become coveted collectors’ cars in the future simply because one is bound to anticipate that this is probably the final “revamp” of the XJ model range before a brand new Jaguar saloon appears on the market some time within the next rwo or three years. 1504
One is bound CO compare the XJ range alongside the V8 Mercedes-Benz and the 7-series BMW, cars which MOTOR SPORT has afforded a great deal of coverage over the past few years. That has been because they have been not only good cars, but well-finished and very reliable cars. Now it is time to give Jaguar credit for the progress made with the XJ. During a recent launch in the Midlands we drove a 4.2-litre six-cylinder XJ6 fitted with the five-speed manual gearbox and an XJ12 (illustrated in this colour section) fitted with the GM400 three-speed automatic transmission.
It is a source of continuing amazement to the writer just how smooth and refined, particularly at low revs, is the stein-cam XK engine which has been the mainstay of the Jaguar company for thirty years. In its current form, producing 205 p.s. @ 5,000 r.p.m. on Lucas electronic fuel injection it will waft its four occupants to well over 100 m.p.h. before any harshness or other evidence of high-revving makes itself obtrusive. The five-speed (Rover) gearbox is admittedly notchy, but we never felt in any danger of missing the next ratio and it’s more than adequate for enthusiastic drivers. Automatic transmission is of course a very popular option on the XJ6, but ‘there is no choice in the matter when it comes to the 12-cylinder car. You have automatic transmission and like it! I must say that the prospect of a five-speed manual 5(J12 made me smile wistfully. . . Automatic uansmission on the XJ6 is a Borg Warner 66 three-speed unit, not the GM unit employed by its more powerful stablemate. Conviction that the basic Jaguar package is absolutely correct means that changes for 1983 are intended to refine the existing concept and make few major changes. There is a totally revised centre console on all models and the steering *heel now has a pleasantly thick rim, thereby removing the writer’s most irritating minor Jaguar gripe: why on earth it took so long for the message to get through is quite beyond me! Alterations to the internal structure of the front scats, including the addition of a Pirelli rubber cushion diaphragm to provide firmer support, feature in the revised cars and a new cloth trim has been introduced for the Jaguar saloons. On the Vanden Plan models, with the exception of the front cushions, the seats are trimmed in soft grain leather. There are a number of other minor changes to trim and instruments and our test car was fitted with a trip computer which served to remind us just how efficient the V12’s “Fireball” heads have made this 5.3-litre saloon. Over the first forty miles of our test route the computer showed an average of 45.6 m.p.h. while at the same time recorthng an average consumption of 20.7 m.p.g. For those who used to shudder at the single figure consumption figures which could be
thrashed out of the original V I2s, times certainly have changed.
With the incorporation of quartz halogen headlamps as standard equipment on the 3.4-litre XJ6 this feature is now a standard fitment on all XJ saloons. There is a new road wheel of an attractive “perforated” alloy design as standard equipment on the V12 Jaguar and it is also available as an option on the six-cylinder models. Part of our route in the XJ12 was conducted in moderate rain and misty, dark conditions, and it was a pleasure to be reacquainted with the superbly relaxed way in which this prestige Jaguar delivers its performance. Over the years improv. “feel” has been built into the power steering to the point where one’s awareness of what the front wheels are doing stands generous comparison with Mercedes and BMW. What’s more an emergency brake application on a road made slippery by mud from contractor’s vehicles saw the XJ12 pull up from over 80 m.p.h. with absolutely no drama or worry whatsoever. In similar conditions on fast open bends, the XJ simply sits firmly on the tarmac, never betraying any sort of temperament which might herald the onset of an embarrassing moment. Interestingly, the Daimler name has been dropped in the Continental market and, to replace the three models marketed under this respected marque name, there will be a Jaguar Sovereign 4.2, a Jaguar Sovereign 5.3HE and a Jaguar Vanden Plan HE. We’re told that the decision to drop the Daimler name has been made to eliminate fragmented marketing effort and, a., to avoid confusion in Germany with the Daimler-Benz company name. That’s a measure of the confidence currently exuded from the Coventry-based company)
For 1983 the Jaguar range starts with the XJ, 3.4 at £13,950.85p and extends through eight models to the Daimler Vanden Plas Double Six at £26,964.82p. In addition there in a huge ranee of optional extras available which will be regarded at a “must” for many potential customers. We await with enormous interest and hope to are whether Jaguar’s ambitions for the next twelve months and beyond are justified) — A.H.
SHELL OILS 1000
netrchZx the WOdd-igkgralgcke
Championship for Drivers by mere seconds born Ricardo Patrese. Above, Ickx leads the Lancias of Teo Fabi (Patrese’s team-mate) and Michele Alboreto, who later retired. John Fitzpatrick and David Hobbs took their IMSA Porsche 935, below left, to third place. Below right, lax and Derek Bell celebrate their joint race victory.
PUTTING the Tyrrell teats back into the winner’s circle for the first time since the late Patrick Depailler’s Monaco triumph in 1978, Michele Alboreto (above) handled his Cosworth powered 011 with considerable confidence. Below, Alboreto is greeted by the delighted Tyrrell team at the finish.
KEKE ROSBERG’s Williams FVV08 (above) finished fifth, but it enabled the Finn to accumulate sufficient points to secure the World Championship for Drivers. Below, John Watson’s McLaren has just passed Daly’s Williams during the Ulsterman’s chase through the field into second place. De Cesaris’s Alfa Romeo and Lauda’s McLaren follow on closely.
AnSasttheorucragevecroaetthrois frustration ift•Finlanci, Stig Blomqvist (above) made no bones about showing that h
vvas no match for the Audis on dirt, he left his Mouton.
THE first weekend in October saw furious battling between contenders for the Tricentrol Saloon Championship— Above, Vince Woodman’s hopes (no. 3) were dashed when he damaged his Capri after being nudged by Peter Lovett (13), the
were eventual race winner, whose teammate Jeff Al(am took the championship. Below left — After an exciting F3 tussle, Dave Scott 13) locked hjs brakes, allowing Tommy Byrne (2) to win, but taking second from Enrique Mansilla ltl at the last corner. Below right, David Carvell (41.0n the Unipart Metro Challenge with a last round victory, also winning an MG Metro!